A quiet Saturday afternoon in Mumbai.
By James Dacey in India
For the past week I have been roaming around the Indian state of Maharashtra meeting students, researchers and teachers to learn about their experiences of physics education. I have also been recording lots of audio interviews, which will form part of a podcast to appear on physicsworld.com within the next couple of months. I don’t want to give away too much just yet but let’s just say that India is a brilliant and noisy place, so you can also expect to hear the sounds of the subcontinent, from sitars to Mumbai’s unbelievable traffic.
This photograph was taken at Mumbai’s St Xavier’s College, which I visited on Saturday to give a talk about science journalism to some of the undergraduate students. I was a bit concerned when I heard that the talk would be held on a Saturday afternoon – surely no student would turn up on the weekend! Well, they certainly did, with about 70 arriving after attending a morning of mandatory lectures. I was also unsure whether everyone would understand my accent. They assured me they did and following the talk there were many great questions. Among my favourites were “How much do you earn?” and “How much do you suffer as a journalist?” I gave diplomatic answers to both.
I arrived in Mumbai last Wednesday along with the editor of Physics World, Matin Durrani. Matin and I have been visiting research institutions to learn about physics in India – its current state, its history and the interconnected social, political and economic issues. Naturally, in the space of a week you can only see a tiny area of this vast country, but we have managed to squeeze in a fair number of visits. We took a divide and conquer approach and my visits in Mumbai included the Bhaba Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and St Xavier’s College. On Saturday, Matin and I went our separate ways as I came south to the city of Pune and he veered south west to Bangalore.
When we return to the UK, we will be writing articles for a special report about physics in India, which will be available to read online.